Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #51: Holiday Season and Year Wrap-up Report

Hello, everyone! I just got back from having Christmas dinner at my sister's house. My younger niece made me a scarf in a weaving class! I keep thinking she will join the "family business" one day...maybe in high school to make some extra money. ;)

We spent yesterday afternoon/evening with my extended family on Mom's side, as we've done for as long as I can remember. I received a couple of unexpected birthday gifts, which was really a nice surprise. :) Mom and I exchanged Christmas gifts this morning before heading out to my sister's. I also received a couple of presents from a family friend in Florida, who obviously reads this blog! ;) She gave me a gift card to Kmart for my birthday, so I can get a couple of items from Sofia Vergara's clothing line there; and a gift certificate to Fire Mountain Gems and Beads for Christmas. I guess she won't ever have trouble figuring out what to buy me ever again! LOL

My knee is much better after a month of using a cane. I was determined to get rid of the cane by Christmas, so I started getting around without it a couple of days ago, and today was the first day I didn't use it at all. :D The knee is still sore...I've got an ice pack on it as I type...but the doctor thinks I may be able to resume working out twice a week with the trainer by mid-January. I won't rush back into my old 3-5 days a week workout schedule, as I don't want to push myself too hard. I will work out with the trainer for a month or so before trying to expand my workouts beyond those "supervised" workouts. :)

Of course, being as accident-prone as I am, I now have a burn mark on my chest from baking cookies with my nieces on Friday. I had just put the cookies on the counter to cool, and I pulled the cookie sheet back from the counter, scraping the corner of it on my chest. I was trying to get it out of the way of the girls, who were hovering nearby. :o I'm putting A&D ointment on it, so it will hopefully heal without leaving a scar. I'm not safe anywhere, even in my own house! :\

As for business, I've completed a number of pieces I started at the Chinese knotting workshop a few weeks ago. I'm really pleased with how they turned out! :D I still have a couple that are incomplete, but I will hopefully get those done sometime this week. I'm working a lot of overtime at the office until the end of the year (we're short-handed again), so I will cut myself some slack if I don't finish them until later in January. ;)

The STOCK'N STUFFrz sale at Woolpunk Studios in Jersey City was extended through Christmas, so I will find out one day this week if I sold anything. Fingers crossed! :)

I'm off tomorrow, so Mom and are are planning to see The Descendents with George Clooney in the afternoon. I worked at the Maplewood Movie Theater in grad school, and the manager recently reached out to me via Facebook. She has some beads she wants restrung and also a bunch of materials she thought I could use, including some 14K gold beads! If she's there tomorrow, we'll chat about it...if not, she will call me after the New Year. :)

I hope you all had wonderful holidays and got everything on your "Wish Lists." ;) Since my next post will be on New Year's Day, I will wish everyone a fun-filled -- and responsible ;) -- New Year's Eve! Catch you in 2012! :o

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #50: Still Unconnected and Making Changes

Hey, all! Sorry I missed you last week. I had my nieces over all weekend and I'm still experiencing computer problems, even though the malware scanner the guys at work gave me keeps coming up clean. I am writing to you from my Netbook in my kitchen, as the idea of turning on the computer upstairs and "fighting" with it does nothing for me. I dragged out the Netbook on Tuesday night, and I still have some upgrading to do before I can more or less use it as my primary computer. In addition, I keep getting a "no connection" message on my my own house that has a WiFi connection! Needless to say, the Universe seems to be conspiring to keep me unconnected. :p

I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday night, getting my five pieces ready to submit for Woolpunk Studios' STOCK'N STUFFrz event this weekend. One of the clasps on a necklace I made early on needed replacing, but I hadn't connected the piece to jump rings between the chain and the clasp, so I could not disconnect the clasp without destroying the piece. I have to remember not to do that anymore! :p Anyway, I ended up coiling thin wire around the toggle hoop and bar, so it looks better now. I showed my coworker the next day, since she was delivering the pieces for me. She said it looks like it requires a lot of patience! Especially that late at night. :)

My pieces sold fairly well at 1978 Maplewood Arts Center the previous weekend. I sold the beaded Crystal Geode, a ring, a bookmark, and another pair of earrings, in addition to the necklace and earrings I sold from the exhibit to a friend. I also sold another necklace and two more pairs of earrings separately last weekend. All in all, this Holiday season seems to be going fairly well. :)

As you may recall, I attended a Chinese knotting workshop last Saturday. I had a lot of fun learning how to make four-, five-, and eight-strand braids, Snake knots, Button knots, rolled satin nylon chains, and a criss-cross knot that I am still having problems making. We covered a lot of material in a relatively short period of time, so I spent some time this week working on these techniques to help commit them to memory. ;)

I am seriously thinking about discontinuing the Virtual Mall in the New Year. I've been spending a lot of time, money, and energy on it...and after 1-1/2 years, I don't feel I'm getting enough back from the effort. I'd rather spend the money updating the store on my website, as I have not had the time to do that myself for quite a while. Originally, I took that over from the web designer to save money, but it's not working out. I don't think I've updated the store in almost six months, if not longer. And the time I spend posting links to the Virtual Mall Facebook page could be better spent on administrative tasks or creating new pieces. I haven't updated my financial spreadsheet since the summer, and I have to get working on that to give it to the accountant for tax preparation. Ideally, I will have more time to keep on top of these things, rather than constantly playing catch-up at the last minute. :\ I won't shut the Virtual Mall down completely right away, as I have to meet minimum commission rates in order to close out some of my affiliate accounts, but I hope to have everything resolved by the summer.

Although I have completed my Christmas shopping, I still have gifts to wrap. My little elves (read: nieces) helped me wrap the gifts I had here last Sunday, but I was only about half done shopping at that point. They are coming over this Friday afternoon to help me bake cookies for the family party on if I don't get it all done by then, they can hopefully come to my rescue again. ;)

As next Sunday is Christmas and Hanukkah is this week, I believe, I will wish you all Happy Holidays now. Best wishes to you all! :D

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #49: Holiday Headaches and Menacing Malware

Hey, everyone! Sorry I'm late, but I had a bunch of malware on my computer, so I had to take it to the office and let the "computer gremlins" there (someone else's phrase, not mine!) clean it out. I was offline all weekend, but that wasn't such a hardship with my knee problem. I am seriously behind on my emails and other virtual business, though! :o I'm doing most of my Christmas shopping online, since walking around a mall is out of the question right now. :o

I still have a bunch of pieces to price out for the chiropractor's office tomorrow -- with my injury, I am seeing him weekly instead of biweekly, so I have the opportunity to change out the merchandise more often leading up to Christmas -- so I will make this brief. ;) My doctor's ex-wife wants a pair of custom earrings, and they are also buying a pair for their daughter for Christmas, so I made those over the weekend. I also beaded a small glass heart-shaped ornament. I saw a pack of six at a holiday bazaar kind of thing, and picked them up so I could experiment. I'm thinking about doing completely different things with them...this one is sort of wearing a red-and-green necklace, as the shape makes it look like a bust. :)

The most recent Focal Piece of the Month is up, by the way. :)

The Nunn Design Innovation Team folks contacted me already and I was not accepted. The big surprise was that I heard back so often takes months to hear anything about one of these kinds of applications, if you get a response at all. :\

I met an old friend at 1978 Maplewood Arts Center yesterday to show off my display, which I did get to deliver on Thursday. He purchased a couple of Christmas gifts from the display, so I'm happy about that! :)

On the deadline date of November 30, I did finally apply to the STOCK'N Stuffers exhibit at Woolpunk Studios in Jersey City. No word back on that, but the sale is toward the end of December, so there's a little time yet. Fingers crossed! I haven't heard back from my friend at GAS Gallery And Studio's Holiday Art Days in South Orange, so I don't know if that will happen or not. :\

The good news for me is that my colleague at the office has only 2-1/2 vacation days left to use up before the end of the year, so I won't have to work as much OT this month. And I have my own last vacation day next Monday. I have to put my car in for maintenance, so that will take a chunk out of the middle of the day.

Unfortunately, the pain in my leg is still disrupting my sleep. The chiropractor will use ultrasound on it again tomorrow...that seemed to help a lot for about 1-1/2 days last week before it wore off. :p

I've gotta run if I want to get the pieces priced for tomorrow and still watch Hawaii Five-0. Enjoy this rather mild December weather we're having and have a great week! ;)

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #48: First Glasses, Now A Cane...What's Next, A Pacemaker?

Hey, folks! My mother used to always say "Into each life, a little rain must fall" while I was growing up. Well, it rained again last night in my life. Instead of attending my 25th high school reunion -- in hindsight, maybe I should have gone after all! -- I messed up my left knee...again. I had a "very bad sprain" 2-3 years ago and had to walk around with a borrowed cane for more than a month. Out of necessity, Mom bought me one of my very own this morning. My older niece wanted her father to buy her one to play around with, and I told her she could use mine after I was finished with it. My younger niece, in her infinite wisdom, said, "You'll probably need it other times." Cute kid, right? :p

It all started when I was sitting on the floor in my computer room/studio, pricing out pieces to deliver to 1978 Maplewood Arts Center this morning for next weekend's BANG VI exhibit. I was reaching for something out of my grasp and leaned forward to get it, rising up on my knees a bit to extend my reach (I was sitting "criss-cross applesauce"...formerly known as Indian-style). Something popped, but that's not terribly unusual. However, when I sat back down, I realized I couldn't bend or straighten my leg, and I couldn't get up off the floor! Serves me right for being too lazy to get up the first time. :p I was in so much pain, I had tears in my eyes! Naturally, I didn't sleep well last night and I did not make it over to 1978 this morning. I emailed the coordinator, and she graciously extended my deadline until Thursday, and she will be there to help me unload the car. My mother also offered to help. I still have a few items to price out and record on the required inventory sheets, since I bailed on finishing that once I got hurt last night. I already have an appointment scheduled with the chiropractor for Tuesday, so I will muddle through until then. I have to work a full day tomorrow, as a supervisor and my partner/colleague are both out. I backed the car out of the driveway earlier to make sure I can manage the clutch on my stick shift. Remind me next time to get an automatic, "just in case." :o

Aside from my personal drama, I applied online for the Nunn Design Innovation Team last night, as I noticed a call for participants on the Beadaholique blog while looking for something else. Swarovski has a similar team, and I know someone from the Bead Society who is on it. Nunn Design makes vintage-looking materials, so I thought that would be a great fit for me. Fingers crossed that they agree! ;) I also submitted my Jeweler's Saw necklace in Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wire & Chain Jewelry-making Contest. I received a letter that I was not selected as a finalist in their Pearls, Organic Beads & Clay contest, which I didn't even remember entering. Still waiting to hear about the Swarovski Crystal ELEMENTS contest. I also apparently did not place in Beadaholique's "Falling Leaves" contest, which I only found out by checking their website. I wasn't even sure it had been evaluated yet. :\

My Thanksgiving was very nice....lots of extended family, food, and Nintendo Pictionary. A fun game, although a lot more complicated than you would think. I hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving enjoyed yours, too. :)

I know this is short (for me, anyway), but my knee is throbbing and I have to get up earlier than usual tomorrow to allow myself extra time to get ready for work. Everything takes a Herculean effort right now, and I don't want to be late because I took too long to get dressed or had trouble driving the car. :(

Take care, one and all...and have a great week! ;)

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #47: Working, Workshops, and "One Life To Live"

Hey, everyone! :)

Okay, so let's start with last weekend. On Saturday, I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. pricing pieces for the Third Annual Jewels of New Jersey show on Sunday. Then, I got up at 7:15 a.m. to shower, dress, load up the car, and drive one hour south of me to the show. Business was not as good as last year, and that was also the general consensus of the other vendors I spoke with that day. There was a lot of work to put into it with not such a great return, but I made more money than I would have staying home and sitting on my butt. :p BTW, I have a few pictures from the event that I will post to Facebook when I get the chance. My sister brought my nieces for the last two hours, which was a nice distraction. However, I might have made a few more sales by focusing on the people browsing my table and chatting with them instead of keeping my nieces occupied. :\ Anyway, next is the BANG VI exhibit at 1978 Maplewood Arts Center. I have to decide what I want to bring and fill out the appropriate forms and labels this week. Luckily, I found pictures from last year (and also posted them to Facebook), so I know what items I had there already. :) No word yet on the events in Jersey City and South Orange. Fingers crossed! ;)

We had our December Bead Society (BSNJ) meeting this week, and I attended a workshop yesterday. At the meeting on Thursday night, Dr. Josephine Yeh gave a presentation on Chinese knotting. She's one of our members and a really sweet lady. There's a picture of the two of us in the Facebook album link I posted above. :) Her presentation was really enjoyable -- she's very funny! -- and she will follow up with a workshop in early December. The workshop I attended on Saturday was to learn how to make a Star Gazer Bracelet with internationally-renowned bead artist Laura McCabe. She's 35, but looks 10 years younger! LOL She's really very nice and patient. ;) We were there for six hours, and I think the most anyone accomplished was one flower our of the eight needed for the piece. :o I'd imagine by the time you get through making all eight flowers, you'd be pretty adept at it! Let's hope so! :)

Also, BSNJ's Autumn newsletter came out this week, and it included my Ten Life Lessons... article! I will paste it up and post it in the clips album on Facebook when I get a chance. :)

I was so wiped out from the past couple of weeks that I slept until NOON today! I guess I really needed the rest. After that, I baked cookies for our family Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. That's my assignment every year...bake Crisco cookies! They are basically butter cookies, but made with Crisco instead. The recipe goes back to World War II, when butter was scarce. ;)

Still working a lot this coming week, even with Thanksgiving on Thursday. We have early dismissals on Wednesday and Friday -- we cannot close the day after Thanksgiving, unfortunately. It has something to do with the stock market not being allowed to close for more than three days (meaning no four-day weekends) since 9-11. However, we are open a lot of days the Depository Trust Company (DTC) is closed, so that doesn't really make much sense to me. Anyway, my colleague is out again Monday and Tuesday, so I'll be working more OT this week. :p

I entered into an online discussion about Joe Paterno's firing from Penn State earlier this week. If you're interested, you can find the discussion here on The Maplewood Patch. I was in the minority, and decided to get out before things got nasty. I don't mind sharing opinions with people, but when they start to lecture me on morality I lose interest VERY quickly. :p

Well, I'm off to YouTube to catch Thursday's and Friday's episodes of One Life To Live, another ABC soap opera that's going off the air in a few weeks. I used to watch it in college, but I only really started watching it again when they announced it was being canceled. In actuality, I think it is moving to the internet sometime early next year, but it will be different than it is now, I'm sure. :\

Take care and Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! :)

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #46: My 101st Post!

Hello, everyone! I just noticed on Blogger that this is my 101st blog post! How do you like that? ;)

Well, my life is crazy at the moment, especially having worked all weekend getting ready for and attending the Jewels of New Jersey juried show in Monroe Township yesterday. More on that and everything else next week. Unfortunately, I have a bunch of stuff to get done this week, and I am working a lot of overtime at the office because (1) my colleague is out Monday and Tuesday and I am subbing for him, and (2) I have to attend a two-day workshop -- four hours each day -- on Excel 2010 Wednesday and Thursday at work. That will basically take up the entire time I'm usually there, so I will get very little work done and I will probably have to stick around to finish up some stuff. With all that being said, I will fill you in on all of the gory details of my busy life next weekend, and perhaps offer my thoughts on the whole Penn State/Joe Paterno controversy...of which I have many! :p I'm taking the "easy way out" again and posting a Focal Piece Flashback, for your reading pleasure. ;) We will return to our regularly scheduled programming next Sunday. Thanks...and have a great week! :D

From April 2010:

For this month, I thought I'd showcase the first finished piece from my Metalwork & Jewelry class at Montclair State University (MSU). It's a solid sterling silver pendant, created using a cuttlebone cast. I've used a gunmetal pinch bail and 2mm black leather, which I had left over from's Use The Muse contest kit. I also used a silver-tone claw clasp.

Cuttlebone casting is not too difficult, although it did take me two tries to get this right. The first time, only the bottom of the piece came out...the top must've been the victim of an air bubble or something. :\

Cuttlebone is the internal shell of the Cuttlefish, and can be purchased at pet supply stores, since it is used as a supplement and exercise toy for birds. Apparently, it is high in calcium, according to

To make a cuttlebone cast -- which can only be used once, BTW, since it is scorched during the process of pouring the molten metal of choice into the cast -- you take a piece of cuttlebone and cut it in half for smaller pieces. If you are making a larger piece, you can use two separate pieces. There is a smooth side and a rough side. Rub the smooth sides together to make a flat working surface. Be sure both sides of the cast are close to the same size...otherwise, you run the risk of having the metal seep out. This happened to me both leaked out the bottom of my cast, even though I did my best to take precautions. Once you have two similar-sized halves of your cast, carve a "funnel" in the top to make it easier for the metal to travel to your carving. If metal stays in this portion when making your piece, you can saw it off later. When carving your design into the cuttlebone, keep in mind the use of negative space. The metal can flow into any areas that are carved out, so if you want areas without metal, do not carve those out from the surface. If you want a three-dimensional piece, carve the mirror image out of the opposite side of the cast. Also, molten metal can only flow downward, so if your design has any parts that point upward, they won't receive metal. Be sure to keep at least 1/4" or so around the perimeter when creating your design, which will minimize leakage. Don't carve too deep if you're making jewelry because the piece will be thick, chunky and heavy. It's fine for sculptures, though. Also, there is a natural pattern in cuttlebone, which will appear in your piece. See all of the ridges and lines in the pendant? That's all natural texture provided by the cuttlebone.

Once you have your carving all set -- cuttlebone is pretty soft, so you can use any tool to carve it...I used one of my needle files -- tape the two pieces of cuttlebone together with masking tape. Be sure the two sides are lined up as you want them, since you only have one shot per cast. Put the cast in a third arm (a stand with a set of tweezers to hold the item in place), and use a high powered torch to melt your metal. Be sure you have enough metal to fill in your piece! Better to have too much than too little. Fine and sterling silver, brass, bronze, and gold can all be used. Copper can be used if it is mixed with 30% silver. Otherwise, it won't hold the shape of the cast.

Borax flux (sprinkles like salt) is added as you melt the metal. Sunglass goggles are recommended because of the power of the torch needed to liquefy the metal. Once the metal is fully melted, pour it quickly but carefully into the cast, as it will cool and take the shape of the carving pretty quickly. Try not to waste any metal, especially if you're using precious metals like silver or gold!

Once the metal has cooled -- the metal at the top of the cast will change from a lava-looking orange color to dark -- you can cut the tape holding the cast together and reveal your piece. Put the piece into a bowl of cool water using tweezers to cool the piece off, then you can pick it up out of the water. Before you dowse it in water, it's too hot to touch. Put the piece in a pickle solution to clean off any oxidation. Cut off any extraneous pieces with a jeweler's saw, then file and sand the piece to make the edges smooth. If you wish, you can polish it with compounds on a wheel; we have bobbing, tripoli and red rouge at school, so I used those. I drilled a hole in the top of the pendant for the bail, and voilà!

If you're interested, I found step-by-step instructions with photos on the web.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #45: Cell Phones, Credit Cards, and Daylight Savings Time!

Hello, everyone...welcome to the other side of Daylight Savings Time! ;) I hope you all remembered to turn your clocks back last night. I only remembered because I had set an alert on my cell phone! :o

Speaking of cell phones, I upgraded mine this week to a Samsung Fascinate. I needed an Android with a 3.5mm headset jack for next weekend. A few weeks ago, I signed up for a free Square Credit Card Reader, but the phone application is not compatible with my Palm Pixi. Luckily, I found a phone that was free -- my regular upgrade isn't really until the spring -- and met most, if not all, of my requirements. I should get it this week, in time to download the application and test it out before the Jewels of New Jersey show next Sunday. Which reminds me...I will probably not post on Sunday next week, as the day will be more than long enough by the time I get back from Monroe Township -- approximately one hour south of me. Anyway, the Square reader and application will allow me to accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover credit card payments with my cell phone and have them automatically deposited to my bank account the next day! There was someone at the show last year who offered to accept credit card payments for vendors, and she charged 5 percent per transaction. Square charges 2.75 percent per swipe for all transactions, so that seems like a pretty good deal to me! Naturally, the idea is not to lose potential sales because someone does not have a check or enough cash on hand. Fingers crossed! :D

Needless to say, I will be getting ready for Sunday's "road trip" almost every night this week! I also received my postcard proofs (my name will be on them this year!) for BANG VI, as well as the press release, 2011 artwork inventory form & labels. Last year, I signed up too late to receive those materials in advance, so I had to write it all up when I dropped off my pieces. Thankfully, I have a little more time this year to pick and choose what to send and properly identify my pieces. :)

I spent a lot of yesterday working on two bracelets for my nieces. They were here mid-week because they still had no power from last weekend's storm. The girls each selected colors for "Snakemaille" metal and rubber ring chain maille bracelets, and laid the rubber rings all out nice and neatly in patterns on my bead board. Of course, I bumped into it once and then knocked over completely in the following two days! :o I decided I'd better just make them and get them out of the way before I forgot the order in the color patterns entirely! :p The bracelets turned out really cute. I've noticed recently that my work is becoming more consistent, which is gratifying for me to see. :) I've started reworking some of my early pieces, which were not as "polished" I am capable of now. ;)

BTW, the latest Focal Piece of the Month is up and I posted a bunch of new pictures to our current Facebook photo album. I still have a few more to edit and post...I will hopefully get all caught up with that this week, since I have to have the pictures in my presentation binder on Sunday to show examples of my work not on display. :)

As I mentioned last week, I showed a friend the binder on Saturday. She is interested in getting some new earrings (and I have TONS of them here!), but she has to try them on and see them in person. We still have to decide if she wants to give me some ideas of what I can bring to her, or if she wants to come here to see all of them. :)

Did I tell you that I figured out how to alleviate the paragraph separating problem I was having with Blogger? I noticed a "Post Options" link below the tags window while posting last weekend, and I checked it out. One choice is "Press 'Enter' for line breaks," so I clicked on it and...problem solved! ;)

Well, I'm off to watch Once Upon A Time, the new show on at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday nights on ABC-TV. I watched the pilot a couple of weeks ago, and then forgot about it last weekend. :o Luckily, I found it on Comcast On Demand, so I caught up yesterday afternoon. I get a kick out of programs that take widely known characters -- and who's more widely known than Snow White, Prince Charming, the Wicked Queen, the Seven Dwarfs, Geppetto, Pinocchio, Red Riding Hood, Granny, Rumplestiltskin, etc.? -- and putting them in non-traditional settings and situations. The series may not be the most original...another network is airing Grimm this season, presumably based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tales...but I do think it's fun to figure out who the different characters are in modern day Storybrooke, Maine. It's not always obvious, which is part of the fun factor. ;) I have no idea if the series has a shelf life given the premise, but I don't think series' in general look for longer than 4-5 years (if that!) anymore. Long gone are the days when a TV series lasted 12, even 15 years (animated series and reality TV shows notwithstanding)!

Take care and have a great week! :D

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #44: It Was a Dark And Stormy Night...Emphasis on DARK!

Hey, all! Well, it was indeed a dark and stormy night here in New Jersey last night. We lost power again yesterday afternoon -- thankfully, it was not only us this time! -- got it back for six hours this morning, then lost it again for another 3+ hours! I won't be convinced we're out of the woods until we have it back for a full 24 hours! :p This snow/slush storm wasn't supposed to be that big of a deal, and yet driving around town looks like it did in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene! My sister is without power until "sometime next week." Tree limbs and uprooted trees are all over the place, some taking power lines with them! The town tree on our neighbor's property lost another large limb, taking their cable lines with it and blocking their car in the driveway again. It didn't pull out our power line this time, but it is leaning heavily on it. With the added weight of snow last night, it is close to the ground now. It's still plugged into the house, but it has pulled out the industrial-strength hook it was on and the pipe connecting the line to the house is now bent at a 90-degree angle! The wooden shingles on that corner of the house have snapped, and are visibly separating from the house, too. It's a shame the town didn't get rid of that tree while they had the chance. In fact, I'd say about 99 percent of the damage I saw today was from town-owned trees lining the streets. They are obviously dead inside or diseased, and should be replaced. Looks like it's going to be a loooooooooooong, dark winter here!

Aside from being powerless most of the weekend, I tried to use some of the time to my best advantage. I sat at my work desk with a candle and played around with a few jewelry ideas I've had percolating in my brain. Unfortunately, some of them were severely hampered by the lack of light and my aging eyesight, so I had to put them aside and try something else. I was kind of hoping to stumble across something I could almost literally do with my eyes closed! LOL After a little more than three hours with moderate success, I decided to call it a night. I did manage to revamp two twisted bead necklaces that I made last year. I didn't like the way they hung on store-bought necklace frames I purchased from Michael's or A.C. Moore (I can't remember which off the top of my head), so I put one on thin black P'leather cord and the other on black braided Greek leather. I'm much happier with them now. ;) Anyway, I woke up to find power in the house! Alas, it was not to last. :p We're back up right now, and keeping our fingers crossed it stays that way! ;)

Last week, I sold a pair of earrings that I had "in stock" (YAY!) to one coworker, and I also worked on a bracelet for another coworker -- my second attempt. Since I haven't been able to be online much, I haven't priced out many new items yet. I'll have to play catch up on that this week, as well as fixing up and posting new pictures to Facebook. I'm bringing my photo binder to a friend next Saturday, so I have to get all of the photos print-ready and print them out! I can't remember the last time I updated the book...I think it was in the spring sometime! :o Being a one-woman-show, it seems that I often put off certain tasks until I run up against a firm deadline and I literally cannot put them off any longer! Not necessarily the smartest way to run a business, but it's worked out okay for me so far. ;)

OH! A new coworker -- she was hired within the past month or so -- at the office asked me for my business card! She'd heard me talking to some of the girls about different pieces they wanted or were buying. It turns out she works part-time for a gallery in Jersey City -- ironically, my father's old stomping grounds -- and said they are "always looking for new talent!" I like being put in that category. :D A couple of weeks ago, I connected with the owner of GAS Gallery & Studio in South Orange about their Holiday Art Days exhibit. He and I went to elementary school together. I'd heard about the exhibit last year too late to participate, but he said he'd let me know once they have the dates set for this year. :D In addition, I received flyers this week for the 3rd annual Jewels of New Jersey, and posted one to Facebook. There's also one on the half-wall next to my desk at the office. ;)

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but I've been competing in our office's Biggest Loser contest since July. I came in SECOND for the THIRD time! :D No cash prize this time around for second place, but I'm happy I'm consistently doing well these days. ;) Of course, we ended this last round on Friday, as we are having a Halloween party in our department ALL DAY tomorrow. ;) Hopefully, I won't undo ALL of my hard work in one day (not very likely)! :p

That's pretty much all I can think of at the moment. Wherever you are, keep warm, stay dry, and have a great week! ;)

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #43: In the Midst of Middle Age...

Hello, everybody! Well, today I finally accepted my growing need for magnifying glasses while doing intricate beadwork and reading. My eyesight has been a bit blurry for quite a while, but I've had nearly perfect vision all of my life...21/20 and 21/23 at my last two appointments, if I recall correctly. Obviously, I'm due for a new eye check-up! :p I've also acquired credit card debt for the first time in my life this year. A mere two months and one day from my 43rd birthday, I think it's safe to say I am officially a middle-aged grown-up. How and when did THAT happen? :o

Being off from the office, I accomplished a lot this week...although not as much as I wanted (of course!). I completed three custom pieces for coworkers that I will present to them this week for approval. I also finished the "Falling Leaves" Contest entry piece I mentioned last week, which I have to submit by Wednesday. I made and sold two new children's bracelets, an order I received via Facebook message last week. I ordered supplies for a bracelet that a friend inquired about a couple of weeks ago. I finally emailed the winners of Something Tangible's Strut Your Stuff Photo Contest with their discount coupons. And I completed a new kit that I'd acquired at this week's Bead Society meeting (more about that in a minute). It was while working on the Fire & Ice Ring kit by bead artist Amy Katz that I decided I couldn't really focus well enough on the small beads. I did, however, finish the ring before heading out to Rite Aid for the glasses. ;)

The guest speaker at this month's Bead Society meeting was the aforementioned bead artist, Amy Katz. She's got a similar professional background to mine...she worked in marketing and publicity for most of her career before switching to her craft full-time. Her work is very classy...she looks at high end jewelry pieces and recreates them in seed beads. The Fire and Ice Ring I made this weekend is really elegant...lots of tiny Swarovski crystals on a silver band. It reminds me of a bejeweled wedding band, although not nearly as expensive! LOL The Even-count Tubular Peyote stitch was used to create the band, and it reminded me of an elastic metal watch band. I think I will make one to replace the worn pink leather band on my silver Tommy Hilfiger watch, using Even-count flat Peyote. I'd been thinking about making a new one for a while, but I hadn't decided how I wanted to approach it. Methinks I've found my solution! ;)

I missed dinner with the BSNJ Board before the meeting because I'd had a headache in the afternoon -- another sign it was time to get glasses -- but I did go out with a few of them after the meeting for "coffee." I had water and a piece of chocolate mousse cake, since I don't drink coffee. Naturally, none of us planned to have dessert, but one trip up to the diner's display case and we all ordered something! :p Anyway, Ms. Katz was also there, so I got to interact with her a bit more. Never hurts to network, ya know? ;) She taught two workshops this weekend, but I couldn't attend them. I'm glad I had this alternate opportunity fall in my lap. Ironically, I initially turned down the invitation because I knew I had an hour drive back home up the Garden State Parkway, and it was already 9:30 p.m. Then, I remembered I didn't have to get up for work the next morning, so I decided to tag along after all. :D

Although my budget is tight these days, I was persuaded to sign up for a Society workshop next month, taught by a renowned bead artist whose schedule is booked for the next two years! She happened to have an opening, and our Workshops Chair was in the right place at the right time. The Workshops Chair is the one who persuaded me to "do this for yourself." She called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (she's good at her job, isn't she? LOL). Who am I to turn that down? ;)

On a somber note, my father would have turned 70 this coming Tuesday (October 25). I can't believe he's been gone for nine years. Man, I AM getting old! :o

Anyway, it's back to the daily grind tomorrow. The guy I work with will be out on Wednesday, so that automatically means extra hours for me. He has a fair amount of time left to use up before the end of the year, so I will be working a lot of extra hours leading up to the holidays. :)

I've still got to write the new Focal Piece of the Month tonight, since it was due to the web designer today. Take care and have a great week! ;)

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #42: A Little "Working Hard"...and A Little "Hardly Working!"

Hey, folks! I took this week off from the office -- if we don't use all of our vacation and personal time by the end of the year, we lose it...and I'm not about to let THAT happen! ;) I have some personal goals for the week, like taking the air conditioners out of my bedroom and the computer room and putting them in the attic, getting my flu shot, etc. I already got my hair cut on Saturday...that was loooooong overdue! LOL Anyway, I also hope to get caught up on a few orders that I have received in the past few weeks, and perhaps fix and/or finish some of the UFOs (a term for "unfinished objects" used by craftspeople) I have laying around.

As I mentioned last week, I had a very social weekend last weekend. On Saturday, I met with a group of ladies for an equine session at a stable in western New Jersey. The idea was to work with the horses, and observe your interactions with them. The theory is "how you do this is how you do everything." I have to admit, I did see a pattern in my attitude and demeanor. We were trying to get the horse to follow us each individually. I started out polite and respectful, but then...the more frustrated I grew, the louder my voice and harsher my words became. I absolutely do that with people, too! LOL Anyway, we went into Frenchtown for lunch afterward and walked around a bit. The author of the book, Eat, Pray, Love owns a shop there, so we checked it out. All-in-all, it was a very nice day! And on Sunday, we had an 11th birthday party for my youngest cousin. I partied a bit more than I should have, which is part of why I didn't post a new message last week. :p

The 1978 Maplewood Arts Center is holding its B.A.N.G VI (Buy Art Now Guys 6) exhibit during the first two weekends in December, and I've signed up again this year. I have to decide what pieces I want to display and price them accordingly -- since it is a not-for-profit, they request prices be whole numbers only to facilitate transactions for the volunteers. I also have to start figuring out what I want to bring to the Third Annual Jewels of New Jersey show in Monroe Township in November. Last year, I pretty much brought everything I had. That is completely unfeasible this year, so I want to pick items that are more likely to be sold (or ordered, but preferably sold to decrease the volume of my inventory). ;)

I started working on another contest piece this last week -- the theme is "falling leaves," and the contest is hosted by Beadaholique. I'm calling my piece "No Two Are Exactly Alike," as I figure leaves are not unlike snowflakes. ;) It's going to take a bit of time and effort on my part, but I'm hoping the result turns out like the picture I have in my head! :p I have a couple of weeks left before the deadline, so I'm hoping to get a fair amount of it done while I'm home this week. :)

By the way, I've added Hatchlings nests to both the Something Tangible LLC and Something Tangible's Virtual Mall pages on Facebook for those who play. All traffic is good, n'est'ce pas? ;) Also, I just found some photos from a workshop and the two craft shows I worked last year; I've posted them in an album on the Something Tangible page. I have to remember to always bring my camera with me and take a few shots whenever I do something like that. I don't have photos from BANG 5 or the workshop I held at 1978 -- the one that ended up in the newspaper -- because it didn't occur to me! ;)

A quick rant before I go...Blogspot is irritating me! They changed the format somehow and now whenever I write a post, I have to insert the HTML code manually for space breaks between paragraphs! Otherwise, it shows up as one big STOOPID is that? >: I keep forgetting to do it as I'm writing, so I always have to go in afterward and insert them. :\

On that note, I will bid you all adieu. Have a great week!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #41: Focal Piece Flashback

Hey, everyone! I had a busy weekend -- socially, not work ;) -- and I'm still playing catch-up. As a result, I am taking the "easy way out" this week and reposting the Focal Piece of the Month from February-March 2010 instead of my usual blog post. I will update you all next week on what's been going on. Take care and have a great week! :D

You will rarely see me feature an item that was designed by someone else as a Focal Piece of the Month, simply because the purpose of this section is to highlight projects that support Something Tangible's overall mission and that showcase the work we do here. That being said, this month I am breaking that rule, and putting the spotlight on one of kits by sb designs I purchased and assembled during my Advanced Wire Jewelry class at the Madison, Chatham & Florham Park Adult School last fall.

It is the Time Is Precious Necklace, which features the inside mechanism of a vintage watch in a claw setting as the focal piece of the necklace. It is an example of Steampunk jewelry, the subject of an oral presentation I am researching for my Metalwork & Jewelry class at Montclair State University this semester. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and cover the subject here, too. I am a master at multi-tasking, you know. ;)

According to a brief description I found at Beading Daily:

"The steampunk culture takes its cues from the Victorian era, and speculates on how our world would be different if steam power had become the driving force behind our culture. Gears and watch hands are used to decorate larger pieces. Old-fashioned keys are also very popular, as are bits of antique cast-offs, such as pill cases, thread cutters and tiny knives."

The movement not only encompasses jewelry, but also clothing, goggles, and other fashion accessories such as boots and hats. This, I found out by conducting a search for "Steampunk" on Google.

Looking at Steampunkopedia's
(Yes, there was such a site! Unfortunately, the link I had no longer works) Steampunk Chronology, the earliest images of the Steampunk culture can be traced back as early as 1962. One item on the list surprised me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense to be included: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in 1968. It was a blending of Victorian-era and modern technology for the time, was it not?

Although its roots are much older, the actual term "Steampunk" wasn't created until the late 1980s. According to Wikipedia,

"Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (author of The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986) and himself (Morlock Night, 1979 and Infernal Devices, 1987) which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of actual Victorian speculative fiction such as H. G. Wells's The Time Machine. In a letter to the science fiction magazine Locus, printed in the April 1987 issue, Jeter wrote:

Dear Locus,
Enclosed is a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I'd appreciate your being so good as to route it Faren Miller, as it's a prime piece of evidence in the great debate as to who in 'the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter fantasy triumvirate' was writing in the 'gonzo-historical manner' first. Though of course, I did find her review in the March Locus to be quite flattering.

Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like 'steampunks', perhaps...

—K.W. Jeter[1]"

^ Sheidlower, Jesse (March 9, 2005). "Science Fiction Citations". Retrieved May 10, 2008.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #40: Fortunes and Fashion

Hello, everyone! I wasn't sure I was going to post today, because I didn't know if I had anything to say. Then, I got this fortune from the Fortune Cookie application on Facebook: "Every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." That sort of sums up my week, so I decided to go with that. ;) LOL

I've had a lot of "false starts" this week. It seemed like the majority of jewelry projects I picked up went nowhere. I have a rather large and messy pile of pieces and tools sitting right next to my computer -- and they've been there for more than a week. Every once in a while throughout the week, I picked up one to see if I can come up with something new, as the original is either flawed or incomplete. Almost everything I tried just didn't work. So, I abandoned them again and played Hatchlings on Facebook. :p I haven't played that game in probably a year or more, but I kinda got sucked back into it again...most likely to avoid facing another failure. They say everything is about perspective, so the Facebook fortune helped me to reframe my difficulties and look at them not as failures, but as "wrong attempts discarded." That makes it easier for me to admit defeat, and potentially chuck a project out the window entirely, rather than try to force something that will never be acceptable. ;)

Another theme in my life this week has been fashion. Mom and I were watching Rachael Ray's show on ABC earlier in the week on a day off from the office, and she had Sofia Vergara on to promote her new Kmart clothing line. We were both impressed with some of the clothes modeled by one of the larger models. Most of the tops have ruching on the sides or the front, which makes them more flattering because they camouflage "curves in the wrong places" more easily. ;) Anyway, we went to a nearby Kmart and tried on clothes this afternoon. Neither one of us enjoys shopping, and particularly trying on clothes! Still, we both found items we liked on ourselves and each other. She purchased one top today, and I made a note which ones I want in what sizes for a future purchase. :) I usually buy a few new things at the beginning of each season, but I'm short on funds at the moment, so my splurge will have to wait a bit.

I did order a couple pairs of Curve Control® Jeans by Kymaro earlier this week, since I now have three pairs of jeans that are too big for me! I've lost around 15 pounds since the beginning of the year, thanks to my new trainer, I'm sure. ;) I'm currently in second place in our department's Biggest Loser contest, which ends just before Halloween. Anyway, I decided to try these jeans because I liked the improvement from the "before" to "after" pictures posted on their website. Worst case scenario, I'll send them back...but I really want to see how they look on me. ;)

I also tried on a bunch of clothes I've had stored away because they didn't fit too well when I bought them a year (or more) ago. Most of them look really nice now! :D I know you should really get rid of anything that doesn't fit, but sometimes it pays to keep them "just in case." LOL

The new Focal Piece of the Month is up...I featured the Blue Bling Bracelet I made for the Swarovski Elements contest I mentioned last week. I've decided to focus on birthstone pieces in 2012, so I want to start putting together some items for the early part of the year. The Garnet post for January will be added to the site with the December updates (usually around the 23rd of each month), so I have to get moving. It will be here before I know it! :o

Have a great week, folks!

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #39: My Photo Contest, the Economy, and Farewell to Pine Valley

Hey, all! I don't know how many of you currently watch or have ever watched soap operas, but they are a dying breed. The dynamics of families have changed, and there are not nearly as many stay-at-home Moms anymore to watch them and buy the "soap" advertised in the commercials. :\

I started watching All My Children (AMC) on ABC when I was in the 7th grade. It was the first soap opera I ever watched. It was either just before or at the beginning of the Jenny & Greg era, and I think that's what sucked me into it. I switched over to NBC soaps in college because a roommate watched them. I eventually started watching AMC again when Mom came home from work to watch it at lunch time while I was unemployed a number of years back. After 41 years, AMC ended its network run on Friday -- although they say it will return on the internet in early 2012, along with One Life To Live, which will end its run at the end of the year. It will be interesting to see how many of the stars return for the online format. Given that the show was ending, a number of characters came back "from the dead" in a bizarre stem cell storyline, so that the actors could be part of the ending. I don't foresee too many of them sticking around, so my guess is that the online Pine Valley will differ quite a bit from where the network version left off. :\ In any case, I watched the tribute to AMC on The View on Friday -- thank God for YouTube! ;) -- and it was really touching. Among others, the actors who played Greg and Jenny (Laurence Lau and Kim Delaney) were on! I think it's the first time they've been reunited since the mid-1980s! :p Not only was the end of this show the end of an era, it was also a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. It's funny how you associate things like that with certain times of your life. Anyway, I hope the new format does the old one justice. Guess we'll see next year!

Now that I've submitted my Blue Bling Bracelet for Fire Mountain Gems' Swarovski contest, they've announced a new one for pieces featuring metal clay, metal beads, wire, jump rings, and/or chain. I have to give this some thought, but I have until January. Since I started out in wire work, it shouldn't be too hard to think of something. :)

I have eight photos from five people so far for the "Strut Your Stuff" Photo Contest, with only five days until the deadline! And the pictures I have, I had to take myself! They are all coworkers, who were happy to submit photos. One coworker asked me to take it myself -- she definitely does NOT like having her picture taken! LOL Since I was going to have my camera there, anyway, I offered to take pictures of the others, too. What better way to ensure I get the photos than by taking them myself?! I'm sorry I can't offer the same service to those of you who live too far away. ;) However, I would appreciate it if some more of you sent me your pictures...I still have room for seven (7) more winners! If I don't get any more by the deadline, I have to decide if I should give more than one 20 percent discount to people who have submitted multiple photos. I was hoping to have at least enough entries to give one to each participant, but that may not happen with only five days left to go. Then again, I still haven't updated the website, so I may buy myself a little time with an extension. I can't see myself updating the site on a week night after work...that's really more of a get-started-early-on-the-weekend-and-hope-it-gets-done kind of job. :p

I think I forgot to mention last week that I've signed up for the 3rd Annual "Jewels of New Jersey" fundraiser for the Monroe Township Public Library. It's a better deal than last year, as we are asked for 10 percent of total sales instead of 20 percent, in addition to the table fee. Since I participated last year, I will be placed in the large community room (or whatever they call it). People who participated two years ago but not last year will get the remaining spots in there, and others will be placed in the main section of the library. I did pretty well at that show last year, so I am hoping to sell off some of my inventory, which is becoming overwhelming. :o

One thing I've started doing recently is disassembling pieces that I've had for a long time, or ones that I've never been happy with the final result. I'm still keeping the pictures in the Photo Gallery on the website and on Facebook, since they demonstrate concepts and techniques I can adapt for newer pieces. I have at least three or four unfinished pieces still sitting here, and I finished up at least as many today. I'm still giving it my best shot, but I'm starting to think I won't be able to hang on until the economy turns around. I heard on the radio yesterday that we are at the beginning of another recession. My mother said we are actually in an economic depression. Either way, it doesn't look like things will turn around any time soon. As the saying goes, "timing is everything."

I haven't decided if I'm going to relax tonight before starting the work week, or if I'm going to continue working on the unfinished pieces. I have a feeling the break will win out! ;)

Take care and have a great week! :D

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #38: Beads, Bling, & BET

Hello, everyone! Well, we've gotten some back-to-school weather here in NJ. I keep wanting to pull down the storm windows, but I know in another week or so, I'll just have to push them back up again. :\

It's been a pretty hectic week. We had our first Bead Society meeting of the new year, which goes from September to June. Members were asked to bring in pieces they made over the summer and speak about what they learned and from where they learned it. The Board -- I am the Secretary, although I'm still not quite sure how that happened! ;) -- was specifically asked to participate, as a lot of the members are too shy. I brought my red, white, and blue rubber chain maille bracelet, the silver wire-wrapped pendant and wire knit chain I made from the class I took back in July, the copper wire-wrapped crystal geode pendant on copper WireLace® knit chain, my Coach purse with the aluminum link extension chain I made for it, and a new watch band I created this week for one of my watches because the leather strap broke off. :) Everyone's projects were very well received; it's really a very nice group of people. We've already got some impressive presentations and workshops lined up for this year, so it should be both fun and educational! :)

A friend from the Czech Republic emailed me yesterday. She purchased a breast cancer necklace for her grandmother when I was first starting out. Now, she wants a cervical cancer necklace for her younger sister. I had to do some research, and found that Zoisite/Ruby-in-Zoisite is associated with the cervix. Since the cervical cancer ribbon is teal-and-white, those will be the main colors I use. I had to order some Zoisite beads, so I can't really decide what I want to do until I get them. Hopefully, the color of the beads -- which looks greenish on the wholesaler's website -- won't clash with teal! :\

I've been working most of the weekend on a Swarovski® crystal bracelet for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads' "Get Your Sparkle On" Swarovski® Elements Jewelry-making Contest. I'm really proud of the piece I've made, called the Blue Bling Bracelet. It's much more elaborate than most of my work, but it was a fun challenge to see if I could go there. I've noticed that the majority of the winning pieces in many contests, and especially the Fire Mountain contests, are more like art pieces than functional jewelry. I guess this is my first attempt at something that falls into that category. LOL The deadline is tomorrow, which is why I had to get it done this weekend. I just submitted my entry a little while ago, so wish me luck! ;)

I took a break last night to visit a comedy club with some friends. My sister couldn't use a Groupon coupon, so I used it rather than have it go to waste. ;) The two warm-up comics were okay, but the headliner -- he is the warm-up comedian for audiences at Rachael Ray's television show -- was hysterical! And his entire act revolves around talking to the people in the audience...asking their names, where they live, what work the do, etc. and improvising off what he's given. He was even cracking himself up! :p What struck me as interesting was that all three comedians made jokes that could be considered "in poor taste" from a politically correct point of view. I haven't been to a comedy club in probably a decade or more, so I was pretty shocked that they still do that...and get away with it! Some of the jokes were funnier than others, but I don't think I would have had the guts to perform one of their routines in front of a bunch of strangers. You never know when something said along those lines could really offend someone. :o Even so, I laughed harder than I had in a really long time...quite possibly because I was so shocked at what was being said! :p

While having lunch this afternoon, I came across a play on BET called "Love in the Nick of Tyme," written by David E Talbert. It starred Morris Chestnut, Ellia English, Terry Dexter, and Avant, among others. Morris Chestnut reminded me of someone I used to know, so I looked up his biography online. He was born January 1, 1969...that makes him 8 days younger than I am! LOL I found that amusing. Subconsciously, I think I assume everyone on whatever screen I'm watching is older than I am. Maybe because they seem so much more accomplished. :\

I have to get up early for work tomorrow, so think I will call it a night. Have a great week!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #37: Teen Idols & A Day of Remembrance

Hey, everyone! Sorry I didn't get here yesterday, but I was watching a series that ran for eight episodes on VH-1 at the beginning of 2009 called Confessions of a Teen Idol. I found it on VH-1's website after seeing The Pirate Movie (1982) earlier in the week for the first time in nearly 30 years, and looking for more recent pictures/footage of Christopher Atkins. He was one of the seven former "heartthrobs" from the '80s and '90s in the series. Although I never saw The Blue Lagoon -- which I may soon rectify -- I had a major crush on him back when The Pirate Movie first came out. He's still a cutie, and he seems to have aged better than I first thought...guess I saw a bad photo. :o Anyway, I have three more episodes to watch, so I'll be doing that as soon as I finish up here! ;)

While watching the series on the internet, I started making a dual color macramé spiral necklace. I saw a few in shops on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, and I wanted to see if I could do it myself. I figured it out pretty quickly, but the spirals are very small because I'm using 1mm WireLace®. Next time, I will use a thicker material. :)

Yesterday's (Newark, NJ) Star Ledger newspaper reprinted the whole original front section from September 12, 2001 in a special section for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. You couldn't get away from the news coverage all last week, although I do realize it is not something we should ever forget. Needless to say, it was a very emotional week for many, regardless of where they live or their native culture. United Airlines Flight 93 -- the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania -- took off from Newark International Airport, which is just 20 minutes from my home. A number of students from my high school were killed that day, including one from my class. We could see the smoke at Ground Zero from a lookout in the nearby South Mountain Reservation almost a week later. We wore "patriotic" clothing to the office on Friday, so I made some new red, white, and blue pieces, as I didn't have any! I made a tricolor rubber and metal jump ring bracelet, a pair of simple earrings and a beaded macramé pin in the shape of a commemorative ribbon (see below). I watched a special with Tom Brokaw on Friday evening that recreated the sequence of events. It was educational for me, as much of the timeline was not clear in my memory. I cried many times watching the program. My mother put the ceremony from Ground Zero on the television Sunday morning; I saw parts of it, but I couldn't make myself watch the whole thing. I did read some of the newspaper articles from 2001, as I do not think I read them at the time. Some were very prophetic in terms of our country's anticipated reaction over the decade to come.

Don't forget, there are still two weeks left in our Strut Your Stuff Photo Contest! I haven't received any entries yet, although my nieces did wear some of their "stuff" on vacation and their father took pictures for them. They wanted me to assure them they had places in the display, but I told them I had to be unbiased. LOL Luckily for them, my relatives CAN participate in the contest! ;) If I don't update the website in the next two weeks, I may have to extend the deadline. Then again...if no one enters, I guess I can just scrap the idea entirely. :p

Well, I'd better get back to my teen idol viewing! Have a great week!

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #36: Hurricane Update & Well-Deserved Down Time!

Hey, all! Well, the tree is still in the street in front of the house, but we reportedly have power back. We also no longer have to boil our water as of Friday evening. I've seen a lot of messages from friends all over the state, and it seems like most of them fared well enough, considering how hard New Jersey was hit. I read on Facebook today that some college friends from the southern portion of Central Jersey had their entire neighborhood flooded out, resulting in lots of mold and mildew everywhere. Thankfully, their friends and neighbors are all pulling together in the clean-up effort. When I told my mother about the flooding, she reminded me that things could always be worse than whatever our own problems are.

Guess what? I rode a Segway again this morning! One rental shop has four of them here in Ocean City. SO MUCH FUN! I'd much prefer to ride a Segway on the Boardwalk than a rental bike. The seats are always so uncomfortable on those bikes. :p

I made a couple of new bracelets from a kit by Linda Gettings this week. She calls them Crazy Easy Bangles. They were a little awkward for me to get started, but once I got going, they weren't too difficult...although I think "crazy easy" is a bit of a stretch for me! LOL I made two variations, and the second one is more complicated...which is, of course, why I messed it up! :p I have to undo a small section (maybe an inch-and-a-half?) are start it from scratch...I tried to salvage that part when it started to unravel due to a loose thread end, but that didn't work out very well. I also have an idea for a simpler variation to use for rings. I will try that when I get a chance. ;)

Spent a lot of this week with my family -- my nieces love playing miniature golf and swimming in the heated outdoor pool. They aren't much for the beach, but I did manage to jump a few waves yesterday. ;) All in all, Ocean City seems to have recovered quickly from Hurricane Irene. It seems that New Jersey is having a much more difficult time of it. :\

Back to the "real world" tomorrow. Luckily, it's a holiday and I won't have to report back to the office until Tuesday. :) Happy Labor Day to those in the U.S.! And I hope everyone has a great week! :)

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #35: Irate Irene - Hurricane Happenings

Hey, everyone! Sorry I am later than usual. Hurricane Irene swept through New Jersey this past weekend and left a big mess in her wake (no pun intended).

A large tree limb fell from a Township tree and yanked the power lines out of our house. Unluckily for us, we were the only house affected with a loss of power. We also lost our landline phone and internet service (I presume because the router is not plugged into a viable power source at the moment) and water. Rumors are that it may take up to five days for the power to be restored, and up to two weeks for water to be drinkable. We were told to boil water before use prior to the service being shut off completely.

As our sump pump is electric, we had almost a foot of water in our basement before my uncle stopped by and suggested we run an extension cord over to the neighbor's house. The basement is now dry, but it smells does our garage. We will have to air them out considerably -- or buy a case of Febreeze! LOL

As of yesterday, the town and power company did not move the tree branch or the live wires on the ground. Unfortunately for our neighbors (on the opposite side from the extension cord family), the power lines are draped over their car parked in the driveway, and the yellow police tape blocks their house in entirely, so they are stuck for now. The branch is blocking their driveway, anyway, so they couldn't leave even if the tape and wires were not an issue. :p

Needless to say, I am glad the damage was not worse. When comparing Irene to Hurricane Katrina, she's little more than an extreme inconvenience.

I've been online all day trying to catch up, and I need a break. If I don't post again until early next week, it's because the power has not been sufficiently restored or the cable company has not fixed the phone/internet lines.

Take care and stay safe!

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011: Special Edition -- Our First Contest!

Something Tangible's Strut Your Stuff Photo Contest!

Time: Friday, August 19 at 10:00pm - September 30 at 12:00am

Location: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, other social media, email, snail mail, carrier pigeon, personal delivery...whatever works for you!

Created By: Something Tangible LLC

Background: I have a wall mount jewelry case that I received as a gift from my sister & her family. There are 12 spaces for photos on the front door, currently displaying the photos of strangers that came with it. I want to see people wearing Something Tangible pieces in those 12 slots!

Here's the deal:
Submit a candid photo of you strutting your stuff -- i.e. wearing piece(s) from Something Tangible -- or of your friends or family members strutting theirs if they were gifts. ;) Some items aren't really wearable, so any "in use" photo will suffice. :) I've created a Strut Your Stuff! album on the company's Facebook page, and, hopefully, photos can be uploaded there directly (I have to find out where to set the access for that), or to our other social media pages (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) For those not on Facebook or uncomfortable posting pictures publicly, feel free to send me your photos via email at, snail mail (contact me for the address), in person, etc. Please let me know if I have permission to post your picture in the Strut Your Stuff! album on Facebook (I know some people are technically-challenged)...I will happily honor your wishes in that regard. ;)

Photos will be collected until midnight EST on September 30 (giving you that final day in case you need the extra time to take photos :D). Twelve pictures will be selected at random to go into the jewelry case collage. Each of the 12 winners will receive 20 percent off one in-stock item from our website (there's my incentive to update the store by the deadline! LOL)! I will probably have to handle the discounts personally via email, as I'm not sure I can add a coupon code to Go Daddy...I will let you know about that as we get closer to the deadline.

I hope you all have fun with this! I can't wait to see you strutting your Something Tangible stuff! :D

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Tangible Tidbits 2011 #34: A Week of "Firsts!"

Hi, everybody! I started using Microsoft OneNote this week to help keep my thoughts/ideas organized, and one of the first things I put in there was a section for Blog Notes! This way, I can remember everything that happened during the week that I want to mention. Until now, I'd pretty much posted what I remembered, unless I specifically wrote myself a note. I have a paper cup FULL of notes that have piled up over time I now have to go through! Hopefully, OneNote will keep me much more focused. I've also set up Windows Live ID account so I can save OneNote notebooks on the web and access them remotely. :)

I'm super excited because I received my first affiliate marketing check from the Virtual Mall's social media activities this week! It wasn't a lot, but I was especially pleased because it was unexpected. :D Followers have been steadily growing on Twitter, and I have been following the companies we promote in the hopes that they will retweet some of their own promotions. It's taken a little more than a year, but I'm not really surprised it's taken this long. I think people needed to get comfortable with me and see what we have to offer. Hopefully, the activities will eventually bring in enough to hire someone to take over that function for me. It takes up a lot more time than I'd anticipated. So much for "passive" income! :\

BTW, I did sell the necklace I've been telling you about for the past couple of weeks. I'm so relieved she loved it! :D

In social media news, my Facebook profile hit 1,000+ friends (1,002) this week! I don't pay too close attention to that number, as I usually focus more on the page numbers -- which are more or less constant. I did gain a half dozen or so new "Likes" this week on the Something Tangible LLC page. I suspect that's because I recently tagged people who have purchased items on those Facebook product photos. I also tagged a few people whose kits I couldn't hurt to show them what I've done with their concepts. ;)

And, finally, I created a Facebook photo album for people to upload pictures of themselves (or others) wearing my pieces this week, as part of Something Tangible's Strut Your Stuff Photo Contest. This is my first official "promotion." You can check out the details on the Facebook event page I created, and I will also be posting the information on the blog for those who don't have Facebook. There will be 12 winners, each of whom will receive 20% off an in-stock item if their photos are randomly selected to put in my wall mount jewelry case. The contest goes until midnight EST on September 30. Wish me luck that I get at least 12 photos submitted! :o

Stay tuned for the details on the contest, and have a great week! :D

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #33: Win Some, Lose Some

Hey, all! I hope you didn't think I forgot about you. ;) The weather was dreary, wet, and gray yesterday, so I took a Mental Health Day and just watched movies with my mother. I may have mentioned this before, but I tend to have low energy when the weather is bad. :\

So, what's new this week? I saw an old friend at a pool party on Saturday. We've known each other since junior high school. He's one of those people that I can potentially not see for a decade, and when we do finally connect it's like nothing has changed...except we're both a bit older, and possibly wiser. ;) Anyway, he didn't know I had started my own company -- he's a Facebook friend, but if it isn't on Farmville he doesn't know about it! LOL Anyway, he's very charismatic and a good salesman, as well as a kindhearted person. He immediately offered to help me out! That's why I love him, ya know? :D Given my public relations and marketing background, I may have already thought of or tried some of his suggestions, but I also know he'll give me a different perspective and possibly a few avenues to explore that had not occurred to me. :) I may have said it before, but I will say it again...any success I have already achieved, as well as my future success in this business, will be attributed to "a little help from my friends." ;)

The private lessons are on hold until after Labor Day. The person I was working with canceled on me twice, then she finally opted to hold off until the end of the summer. I may or may not hear back from her, but at least I gave it a shot. :)

The necklace I told you about last week -- the one I ended up putting on a ready-made chain instead of a handcrafted wire knit chain -- did not impress my client. So, I went back to the drawing board and worked with the second chain I had made last weekend. I ended up making it long enough by pulling it through the drawplate a number of times, compacting the wire more and more and lengthening it each time through. I'm sure this will be what she wants, but the price tag is out of her usual range. I had warned her about that, so we will see if she loves the necklace enough to pay the price or if she passes on it. :o

Ideally, I would like to get some stuff on my To-Do list completed -- finishing incomplete projects, updating the database and website, etc. -- before next week, but I don't think I will get it all done. My coworker will be on vacation all next week, so I'll be working a lot of overtime. I've accepted the fact that I can't do his job and leave before 5:00 p.m. (or later). Luckily, he doesn't take full weeks out too often. ;) Anyway, I will be out the week after that on my own vacation. YAY! I plan to work on a few of the jewelry-making kits I have here during that week. That seems to be the only time I can work on them, as I have not much else to do during my downtime away from here. ;)

Can you believe summer will be over in a few weeks already? The weather has cooled off considerably here due to frequent rainstorms, so it's been more bearable. When it gets cool in early September, I always think of that as back-to-school weather. It is often followed by a final burst of summer heat, usually around the third week of September. :p

As always, thanks for sticking with me and have a great week! :D

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #32: Thank You For Your Support!

Hey, all! The line "thank you for your support" always reminds me of the two old-timers in the Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler commercials from the 1980s. Do they even make that stuff anymore? ;) :o

I really do want to thank those of you who heeded my mid-week plea to check out's 2011 Gold Club "OOAK" (One-Of-A-Kind) Contest and vote for the Popular Choice winner. Although I could not campaign for my piece, a few determined friends did email me to verify their choices were the one I'd created. ;) Most knew my style, although one or two were a bit overwhelmed with the choices. I did not win, which didn't at all surprise me. Most of the entries were well beyond my current wire-wrapping capabilities. That will hopefully change by next year! :) I have to say, some of the pieces were beautiful, but others were too elaborate for my taste. Some of the wire and beadwork overshadowed the one-of-a-kind pieces, which is a bit silly in my opinion. If you have a special stone, why would you want to detract from it with a lot of embellishments? Save that for the plain, ordinary stones! :p

The reason I did not post yesterday -- aside from the fact that I sent out a Special Edition on Tuesday -- was because I had a wave of inspiration/creativity hit me last night, and I thought it best to go with it rather than stop to write my blog post. I struggled most of the day with one particular project, and once I finally completed it, I tackled another three relatively painlessly. ;) Most of them are "on spec," so I may or may not sell them even though they were made by request. I have a hard time estimating projects in advance, simply because I don't know what materials will end up in the final piece until I've completed it. I started out with the intention to create a wire knit chain for a pendant, but after three attempts -- two using different wire gauges and a third switching to WireLace® -- I ended up using a ready-made chain I had in my stash. The first chain was too bulky for my drawplate and I had to fight with it to make it fit through the holes. The second one was too short, and I ran out of one of the three colors of wire I was using. The WireLace® knit chain turned out very nice, but it ended up making the overall piece too expensive for my buyer. So, I looked through everything I have and came up with something that complimented the pendant nicely. However, that was not at all my original plan, so had I given an estimate it would have been inaccurate. :\

In any case, I've completed most of my "promised" pieces...I have two more that were "abandoned" concepts from last year, but I came up with ideas for both during yesterday's burst of creativity. :) I hope to develop them this week, and maybe salvage those potential sales. :)

Second quarter sales weren't much better than the first quarter, but I was not surprised in the least by that. I kind of "burned out" after the December holidays from working full-time as a temp at the office and trying to maintain my business at the same time. Plus, I was devoting a fair amount of time to holiday craft shows/exhibits, so that took up many of my weekends. Accepting a part-time position at the office back in January took the pressure off a bit to generate sales so that I could pay my bills, and I took a physical and mental health break for a few months. Needless to say, that affected the bottom line. In the past month or so, I have gained some of my momentum back, and I will hopefully be able to balance things better from this point forward. Wish me luck with that! LOL ;)

I have a bunch of new photos to post to the Facebook photo album later this week...I will be starting a third one pretty soon, as the second one is approaching the 200-picture limit. :) I still haven't updated the website, but I don't think it gets much traffic, anyway. :o

Moving right along...I have go price out some items for display at my chiropractor's office tomorrow. Have a great week! :D

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011: Special Edition -- Got A Minute?

I'd like to ask a favor, and it can't wait until Sunday's blog post.

As I think I mentioned, I entered's 2011 Gold Club "OOAK" (One-Of-A-Kind) Contest this past week, and the popular voting is open from now until Friday morning, August 5.

Voting for the Popular Choice Prize is open through 10am Mountain Time Friday, August 5. Winners will be announced Friday afternoon. Please vote! Just click the button on the page, or email with the name of your favorite entry. You can only vote once, so choose wisely!

I can't tell you which entry is mine, as they asked we not "campaign" for our pieces. However, if you've seen the Facebook page or read recent blog posts, you can probably figure it out. ;)

Thanks so much for your support!

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #31: Shifting Gears ...Temporarily

Hi there! I decided to write this week's blog post early, as I am going to a barbecue later today with some high school friends -- and I know I won't want to do it whenever I get home! I also needed to shift gears from what I was doing earlier.

I spent much of this morning figuring out a pair of earrings a coworker recently requested. She showed me photos of two very large pairs of earrings, and asked if I could make similar ones for her. I came up with a few viable ideas over the past couple of days, so I worked on one last night and the other one today. Last night's project is far from finished, but it will take me a while to get it done. It involves beading over a base bead with seed beads, making the original bead larger, more textured, and a totally different color! The photo in question uses crocheted beads, I think. I couldn't find anything appropriate online the other day and I can't crochet, so I thought I would try this approach. Since each earring has nine gradually larger beads on it, I have to make 18 beads and then string them on Memory Wire for the earrings. I figure I will work on them a little bit at a time over the next week or two, since my coworker isn't in any hurry. :) The second pair are less complicated, but I used Brown Jasper beads on the "prototype" and in pricing them out, I realized they were way above her budget. I've got smaller Czech firepolished glass beads that may work -- they are much cheaper than the gemstone beads -- but I am not motivated at the moment to take the first pair apart and start all over again! Hence, my decision to write today's blog post instead. ;)

In addition to these two pairs of earrings, I have one other simpler pair to make for another coworker, and a necklace for a third coworker, with possibly a pair of matching earrings. I also have to put a lot of my recent material purchases in the database, so that I can price out pieces accurately. I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed at the moment, but this was what I asked for when I started this business, right? ;)

Thankfully, things lightened up at the office this week, so I wasn't as worn out most days when I got home. I did end up working overtime on Friday, but that wasn't as stressful as a few weeks ago. :)

This past Tuesday, I began the private lessons I mentioned last week. The student is very nice, but a bit unfocused. Hopefully, I can help her complete a pair of earrings soon. My mother suggested something I already knew -- that if she can finish something, even something simple, it will boost her confidence and enthusiasm to continue. We have our second session tomorrow afternoon.

The new Focal Piece of the Month is up on the website. I also posted it to both Facebook pages this morning. Facebook is acting weird. The Virtual Mall page had 1 "Like" this morning until I refreshed the page, then the 450+ came back. The Something Tangible page had 23 "Likes" before refreshing...and it is back down to 1 now! :( Luckily, the lists of "People who like" seem to still be intact. :)

In other social media-related news, the STVirtualMall Twitter account reached 1,000+ followers this week! :D

That's about all I've got for now. Have a great week, everyone! :D

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 # 30: Experimenting, Private Lessons, & Hiding From The Heat!

Hello, people! :)

I've been doing a lot of playing/experimenting this week. I was attempting to create a piece in time for's 2011 Gold Club One-of-a-Kind (OOAK) Contest deadline on July 31. I'm a Gold Club member, meaning that I purchased enough supplies from to qualify for this "elite" status. I wanted to submit a copper-wrapped pendant I made last week using a small leftover piece of the Crystal Geode that I beaded as a paperweight, but the contest rules state the OOAK item must be purchased from within the past three months, and they will ask for an order number if you move to the next round. Looking at my records, I purchased the Crystal Geodes in November 2010, so that's too long ago. :\ I purchased a new OOAK gemstone cabochon earlier this week, and it arrived on Saturday. I worked on it this morning, and my mother LOVES the final piece! I'm still finding my way with wire-wrapping. I had to use sterling silver wire, which mars easily if you aren't careful. The piece isn't perfect, but it's nice enough to the untrained eye. Unfortunately, the judges will undoubtedly have trained eyes! :o

Anyway, I was playing around with WireLace®, and created a copper knit chain for the Crystal Geode pendant using 1mm WireLace®. I like the way it turned out! For the piece I made for the contest, I didn't have 1mm in the correct color (seafoam) to pick up the shade in the pendant, so I decided to braid together 6mm WireLace® in black, seafoam, and aluminum. The stone is black and green, and the wrapping is silver. I wanted to knit a chain, but I tested that out on 6mm copper, pale silver, and brass WireLace®. I ended up with a bracelet with a focal knit bead in the center, as the three pieces of wider WireLace® made a very bulky weave. Mom likes the bracelet, too...I'm not sure I like it. However, if Mom does...hopefully someone else will, too! ;)

You can read about another experimental piece later this week, when the new Focal Piece of the Month is posted. ;) I REALLY have to start cataloging my newer pieces in the database and pricing them out. I've been posting pictures to Facebook, but I haven't updated the website store in eons!

I forgot to mention last week that I'm testing out a new feature on Facebook: it's a Payvment storefront. A while back, I entered some pieces and prices, but I never activated it. I activated it last week on both the Something Tangible LLC and Something Tangible Virtual Mall pages. If you want to check them out, click on "Shop Now" on the left-hand side menu on either page. :)

I received an exciting email earlier in the week from Suzanne Banfield, who taught the five-hour workshop I attended recently. She wanted to know if I would consider giving private wire jewelry-making lessons to a student who wants extra help! She doesn't offer private lessons herself, but she thought I might enjoy it. I was very flattered she thought of me! :D I've been in touch with the student, and we will hopefully get together later this week. She only wants a couple of 1-1/2 hour sessions, but that's fine by me! Any extra cash is better than none. :)

If you're following weather news lately, you know we're having a major heat wave up and down the East Coast. Man, it is BRUTAL here in New Jersey! I think it was up to 105 degrees mid-week, and "down" to 99 degrees on Friday. I just want to hibernate in the air conditioning until fall.

Have a great week and STAY COOL! :)

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 # 29: Seriously Overworked and "The Thorn Birds"

Hey, all! As anticipated, I worked a lot of extra hours at the office last week. As a part-timer, my work week is regularly 25 hours. I clocked in 43-1/2 hours last week! I will be grateful when the paycheck comes, but it was torture getting to the weekend! :p Luckily, the coworker whose job I was doing is back in tomorrow...although he may be going to Jury Duty on Tuesday! :\

On Friday night, Mom and I watched the second half of The Thorn Birds 20th Anniversary DVD (2003). I had bought it as a gift for Mom sometime last year and we started it last weekend. It's still a moving story, and the deaths of various characters still got to me, even though I knew they were coming. I must've seen the mini-series at least three or four times before, but it had been so long that I forgot some key details. In the DVD commentary, Richard Chamberlain called it one of the "three or four best films ever aired on American television." I can't argue with him on that! I watched The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years by myself last night. I'd only viewed it once before and concluded there was a reason they were missing! LOL :o Having just seen the original, the incongruities were magnified. There was a lack of continuity, largely because no one involved -- with the exception of Richard Chamberlain -- were part of the original, not even the production staff! Needless to say, it showed IMHO. :\

While watching TV last night, I worked on my beaded Crystal Geode paperweight. I still have a little bit to do in the back. I had to switch to smaller seed beads because I was running low on the larger ones. Obviously, using smaller beads takes much longer. :p Earlier this week, I finished up the brass, bronze, & copper wire knit chain I started at last week's workshop; and then today I created a silver one for the wire-wrapped pendant I made at the workshop and took a stab at creating a knit bracelet with hemp cord. It turned out pretty well, although not perfect. Working with the wire is much more forgiving because pulling it through a drawplate compacts the chain and hides the flaws. ;)

I still have a few chores to do and I want to get to bed early so I am ready for work tomorrow morning. Have a great week, everyone! :D

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 # 28: Wireworking, Girls' Softball, & A New Car

Hey, folks! Boy, am I glad this week is over...but next week looks to be just as hectic!

As I mentioned last week, I attended a five-hour workshop yesterday. It was taught by Suzanne Banfield (sb designs), one of the teachers of the Madison, Chatham & Florham Park Adult School classes I took last year. I learned how to make a wire knit chain and to wire wrap a cabochon pendant. I'm so excited! These two skills will help me immensely, as they will open up a lot of new options for me in creating pieces. :D

Sales are picking up again with the help of a couple of ladies in my office. They both like their accessories to match their outfits, so they are always adding to their collections! ;)

I joined the CraftEdu Community this week, a Ning-style group for crafty people. One of the BSNJ members is teaching a class through them and sent the link to the Society's Yahoo group, so I checked it out. I wasn't really planning to be an active participant, but one of the instructors asked me to post pictures of my work, so I may as well get that exposure. ;) I also asked to be put on the outreach list for the South Amboy Arts Festival in September, after another BSNJ member passed on that information to the Society.

As expected, I ended up working really late at the office Thursday and Friday, and I will probably end up working late at least four out of five days this week, since we are short-staffed in our department. I didn't get online at all after Wednesday night, since I had the BSNJ Board meeting on Thursday and I was totally fried on Friday night. I ended up staying up until 3:30 a.m. last night going through 155+ emails after my all-day workshop! Needless to say, I hope to keep up better this week to avoid that situation again. :p

Did I mention I got a new car? I leased a 2011 Nissan Sentra (6-speed manual) after being told that my 1997 Nissan Sentra GLE could not pass inspection the week before. It was really time, even though the car had less than 75,000 miles on it. The visors didn't stay up without Velcro and duct tape, the rubber pad was affixed to my clutch with electrical tape, and the "check engine" light had been on for three years -- ultimately the reason I failed inspection. There was also a slow leak in one of the tires, so I was monitoring it regularly to fill it with air every few weeks. Needless to say, I am thrilled to leave those issues behind me, even if the car cost more than I was originally led to believe (not surprisingly, of course!).

I spent this afternoon out in the hot sun watching my younger niece play softball at the Bridgewater, NJ stadium where the Somerset Patriots (Atlantic League of Professional Baseball) play in a fundraiser for the Patriots Children's Fund and local softball programs around the New Jersey. Her team won 15 to 6! The coaches pitch in the tournament league, so she wasn't on the pitcher's mound today. She did make a few really impressive plays and batted at least one double! :D It's a nice stadium...I hadn't been there before.

That's about all I have for now. Have a great week, everyone! :D

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